South Front — August 28, 2018
The US military is creating a strike force to carry out an attack on government forces in Syria, which is to be justified by a staged chemical attack in the province of Idlib, the Russian military says.
Besides the already noted deployment of the USS The Sullivans to the Persian Gulf and the rebasing of a B-1B Lancer strategic bomber to an air base in Qatar, the missile destroyer USS Ross carrying 28 Tomahawk cruise missiles entered the Mediterranean. Thus, the US could launch at least 84 Tomahawk cruise missiles and 24 AGM-158 joint air to surface stand-off missiles (JASSM) if it were to decide to strike the war-torn country right now.
According to Russian military spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov, “these preparations are fresh confirmation of US intentions to use as a pretext a likely simulation of the government forces’ chemical attack, which Hayat Tahrir al-Sham [formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda] militants are plotting with active support from British secret services.”
Reports are appearing that the Syrian Air Defense Forces (SADF) have already started preparing to repel an expected US-led missile strike by deploying additional specialists and air defense systems near the crucial objects of the infrastructure, which they expect may be targeted.
On August 22, US National Security Advisor John Bolton claimed that “if the Syrian regime uses chemical weapons, we will respond very strongly and they really ought to think about this a long time.” This was only one of a series of threats to the Syrian government issued by the US, the UK and France. While all these threats are clearly exploiting the chemical weapons narrative, their main goal is to prevent the defeat of the terrorists in Idlib by delaying the Syrian Army operation.
On August 25, a source close to the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) told the Kurdish news outlet Bas News that the US-led coalition began deploying radar stations at its bases in the governorates of al-Hasakah and Aleppo as part of a new plan to increase its control of Syrian airspace. The report pointed out the airbases in Kobani and Rmelan as places where the radars were installed. The US 727 Expeditionary Air Control Squadron is reportedly involved in this effort.
Meanwhile, clashes between the Syrian Army and ISIS continued in the area of al-Safa where at least one vehicle of the terrorist group was destroyed. However, ISIS resistance in the desert is still strong enough to draw Syrian military resources from other important frontlines.
In the Idlib de-escalation zone, militants feeling the support of the so-called international community have increased their preparations for the battle against government forces. An important part of these preparations is arrests and abductions of civilians, public figures and field commanders who would probably support peaceful negotiations with Damascus.
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